Combustion Associates, Inc.

The Company

Combustion Associates, Inc., (CAI) located in Corona, California, is a minority-owned business that provides power solutions to clients in the energy, process, and environmental industries. The company’s power generation systems and technologies promote fuel usage efficiency, reduce pollution, and reduce waste streams by using them as fuel sources. CAI’s focus is on underserved markets, where rapid electrification projects are a top priority to help national advance in jobs, sanitation, and improvements in quality of life. An important aspect of CAI’s power generation equipment is that to the greatest extent possible, they use U.S.-made components. The gas turbines are from major U.S. suppliers, gearboxes are sourced from Texas, generators are made in Ohio, and skids and enclosures for the units are U.S. sourced steel. The systems are built and integrated in CAI’s own manufacturing plant in California. (For more information on Combustion Associates Inc., please visit their website, www.cai3.com.)

The Success

CAI is a long term client of the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) office in Ontario, California. In 2007, with CS assistance, the company won a tender with the Government of Benin for dual-fired gas turbines of 80 MW capacity to address the country’s increasingly dire energy shortages and related electricity power cuts. CS staff in California worked with the Advocacy Center and the U.S. Embassy in Benin to set up a series of meetings with Benin’s President Boni Yayi, the Ministers of Finance and Energy, and the Counselor to the President on Energy Affairs. CAI was awarded a multi-million dollar bid.

Since 2007, CAI has continued to expand into new markets abroad, including Turkey and Europe. Exports now represent 90 percent of the company’s revenue. CAI has benefited substantially from the services of the U.S. Commercial Service, which have included market intelligence, trade counseling, and advice on the entire export process.

Combustion Associates Equipment in Benin
Combustion Associates Equipment in Benin

The Result

In 2011, Combustion Associates was awarded the “E” Award for Excellence in Exporting, presented by Secretary Locke. Kusum Kavia, CAI’s International Marketing Manager, is also an on-going member of the California Inland Empire District Export Council, appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. Kavia states, “The U.S. Commercial Service provides a strong support network for us. As a small but growing business, we didn’t have strong brand recognition, but we knew that with the U.S. Commercial Service behind us, there was no stopping us.”

Kavia also encourages other U.S. companies to export, saying “Don’t limit yourself; get out of your comfort zone. We are a better company because of exporting, and since 1991 have grown from 2 employees to 60, and from 200 square feet to 40,000. We attribute this growth to quality workmanship and building long term relationships.”


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